Permission to Live; Busting through Beliefs and Survival SystemsBy
For many years, I didn’t even know that I sought “permission.” It was a normal way of life for me growing up to need permission for everything. I am not talking about permission to sleep over at my friends, or permission to go to the corner store. It is healthy for children to need to seek permission for those things. That is about safety. I am talking about needing and seeking permission to think, permission to be who I really am, permission to make a decision on my own and in reality, seeking permission to live.
Seeking permission started because a big part of my survival system was about doing what was expected of me and being what and who the adults and my dysfunctional paretents wanted me to be. And I was so afraid to be wrong. It was dangerous to decide anything on my own without approval. That was just the way I grew up. I didn’t know that I COULD think for myself. I had never been allowed to OR encouraged to so I had never learned how. And this is largely because of the consequences of saying or doing something wrong when I was a kid.
Eventually, I felt like I needed permission to breathe.
As I got older I had this constant feeling of not being able to breathe.
I wondered “how I should feel” instead of having feelings. It was like I had to have the “right” to have my own feelings. I was not given permission to feel. “I am scared”, was met with “don’t be silly, there is nothing to be scared of.” “That hurts” was met with “no it doesn’t”and when I think about it today, how did someone else KNOW if something hurt me or not? How many times do kids get slapped when they yell “OW”? How validating is that?
Not having permission to say no, to say stop, to say ouch or to feel sad. Not having permission to be happy, to be me, or to say that I don’t like mashed potatoes. I didn’t like them, and I gagged on them, but my father made me eat them. And I never thought that that was wrong of him, but I put having to like or dislike certain foods, into the grid of not having permission.
I was constantly told that I was wrong. I was shut down and told that my personality was too dramatic and that I talked to hear myself talk. Then I was reprimanded for being too quiet, moody and sullen. I was spanked and then told that if I didn’t stop crying that I would be given something to cry about. I learned and believed that crying, even for being hit and consequently being in physical pain, must be wrong. All of that is extremely invalidating not to mention confusing! Having a steady diet of mixed messages nurtures confusion and a faulty belief system full of conflicting beliefs and no permission. This is a dysfunctional way to grow up.
Over time I learned that at the root of the problem was always something that I did wrong. No wonder I learned to try harder and harder to do things right. But “right” was never defined. One day something I did was right and then the next day it was wrong. Nothing was consistent.
Being hit with a belt and convinced that I deserved it went along with the other false beliefs and they blended into each other; false beliefs such as that I caused other people to fly into a rage, that I caused people to dislike me and that I caused people to feel certain ways and to be in certain moods. I believed that I caused my mother’s depressions. I believed that I caused her to get the strap out and beat the shit out of me. As a teenager I believed that I caused the sexual abuse that happened to me. I was not believed, validated or protected afterwards. At the same time I was told that it happened because I had a crush on the man who came into my room, which in reality indicates that I was believed but denied my right to be safe. Since I did have a crush on him, then I thought that it must be my fault after all and that I “must have” done something to cause it.
Because of the times when I was convinced that I had done things to deserve those beatings, or done something to “attract” being sexually assaulted, I even went back in time and applied these lies to child sexual abuse and physical abuse that I suffered as a small child, believing that if the assaults and molestations were my fault when I was a teenager, then they must have ALWAYS been my fault. Therefore, I believed I was the reason I was targeted for sexual abuse; the reason my mother cried and why she was so depressed; the reason my mother raged and even the reason that my father left. I believed that I was doing something wrong in the ways that I talked to my mother’s boyfriends, and the list of what I thought I was responsible for was absolutely endless. And it formed because each of these beliefs built on each other and each one served to support the other one.
It is not just the blatant suggestions that cause the belief system to form full of lies, but phrases carelessly thrown out to a child by an adult also serve as the glue that supports all the self blame. Statements such as “you asked for it” “if you were more like “someone else”, “if you were not so loud, or so quiet” “you get on my nerves” … the list is too long to even go farther, but these lies and beliefs intertwined together with all manner of indications that I myself, attracted certain situations, sometimes mixed with “just enough truth” that I was too confused to think straight. All this created the lasting cement that was the foundation of my belief system.
And it was time to get out the jackhammer and break it down. And when I took a good look at all of it and began to expose the lies at the roots of all this “programming” and dysfunctional family system stuff, I was able to begin to embrace the truth and finally give myself validation and permission. Permission to think for myself, permission to speak; permission to live; permission to be me; permission to be right and to make choices; permission to feel and permission to breathe.
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